The Bund

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A wide curving walkway along a body of water to the right, crowded with many people and some large orange umbrellas underneath a sky colored by sunset. To the left of the walkway are light brownish-grey stone buildings in various late-19th and early-20th-century architectural styles, with taller buildings in the distance.
The Bund on a summer evening
A map showing a river coming up from the bottom right and curving toward the right about two-thirds of the way up where another, smaller river joins from the left. On the left of the river is a complex network of streets with some parks; on the right are some property lines.
A 1933 map of the Bund

The Bund (simplified Chinese: 外滩; traditional Chinese: 外灘; Shanghainese: nga3thae1; Mandarin pinyin: Wàitān) is a waterfront area in central Shanghai. The area centres on a section of Zhongshan Road (East-1 Zhongshan Road) within the former Shanghai International Settlement, which runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River, facing Pudong, in the eastern part of Huangpu District. The Bund usually refers to the buildings and wharves on this section of the road, as well as some adjacent areas. It is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai. Building heights are restricted in this area.

Name[edit]

The word "bund" means an embankment or an embanked quay. The word comes from the Persian word band, through Hindustani, meaning an embankment, levee or dam (a cognate of English terms "bind", "bond" and "band", and the German word "Bund", etc.). It is thus named after the bunds/levees in Baghdad along the Tigris, when the Baghdadi Jews such as the prominent Sassoon family settled their business in Shanghai in the 19th century and built heavily on the bund on the Huangpo. In these Chinese port cities, the English term came to mean, especially, the embanked quay along the shore. In English, "Bund" is pronounced to rhyme with "fund".[1]

There are numerous sites in India, China, and Japan which are called "bunds" (e.g. the Yokohama Bund). However, "The Bund", without qualification as to location, usually refers to this stretch of embanked riverfront in Shanghai.

The Chinese name for the Bund is unrelated in meaning: it means literally the "outer bank", referring to the Huangpu River, because this part of the riverfront was located further downstream than the "inner bank" area adjacent to the old walled city of Shanghai.

History[edit]

View to the Bund
Three on the Bund
The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) Building (left), the Customs House (center), the former Bank of Communications (right) in the foreground; the Bund Financial Center in the background
ShanghaiBundpic1.jpg

The Shanghai Bund has dozens of historical buildings, lining the Huangpu River, that once housed numerous banks and trading houses from the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Italy, Russia, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as the consulates of Russia and Britain, a newspaper, the Shanghai Club and the Masonic Club. The Bund lies north of the old, walled city of Shanghai. It was initially a British settlement; later the British and American settlements were combined in the International Settlement. Magnificent commercial buildings in the Beaux Arts style sprung up in the years around the turn of the 20th century as the Bund developed into a major financial center of East Asia. Directly to the south, and just northeast of the old walled city, the former French Bund (the quai de France, part of the Shanghai French Concession) was of comparable size to the Bund but functioned more as a working harbourside.

By the 1940s the Bund housed the headquarters of many, if not most, of the major financial institutions operating in China, including the "big four" national banks in the Republic of China era. However, with the Communist victory in the Chinese civil war, many of the financial institutions were moved out gradually in the 1950s, and the hotels and clubs closed or converted to other uses. The statues of colonial figures and foreign worthies which had dotted the riverside were also removed.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, with the thawing of economic policy in the People's Republic of China, buildings on the Bund were gradually returned to their former uses. Government institutions were moved out in favour of financial institutions, while hotels resumed trading as such. Also during this period, a series of floods caused by typhoons motivated the municipal government to construct a tall levee along the riverfront, with the result that the embankment now stands some 10 metres higher than street level. The Bunds revitalization began in 1986 with a new promenade by the Dutch Architect Paulus Snoeren and has dramatically changed the streetscape of the Bund. In the 1990s, Zhongshan Road (named after Sun Yat-sen), the road on which the Bund is centred, was widened to ten lanes. As a result, most of the parkland which had existed along the road disappeared. Also in this period, the ferry wharves connecting the Bund and Pudong, which had served the area's original purpose, were removed. A number of pleasure cruises still operate from some nearby wharves.

In the 1990s the Shanghai government attempted to promote an extended concept of the Bund to boost tourism, and land value in nearby areas, as well as to reconcile the promotion of "colonial relics" with the Socialist ideology. In its expanded form, the term "Bund" (as "New Bund" or "Northern Bund") was used to refer to areas south of the Yan'an Road, and a stretch of riverfront north of the Suzhou River (Zhabei). Such use of the term, however, remains rare outside of tourism literature.

From 2008, a major reconfiguration of traffic flow along the Bund was carried out. The first stage of the plan involved the southern end of the Bund, and saw the demolition of a section of the Yan'an Road elevated expressway, including removal of the large elevated expressway exit structure that formerly dominated the confluence of Yan'an Road and the Bund. A second phase involved the year-long restoration of the century-old Waibaidu Bridge at the northern end of the Bund. In a third stage, the former 10-lane Bund roadway was reconstructed in two levels, with six lanes carried in a new tunnel. The vacated road space was used to widen the landscaped promenade along the waterfront.[2] The new concrete bridge that was built in 1991 to relieve traffic on Waibaidu Bridge was rendered obsolete by the new double-levelled roadway, and demolished.

The Bund was re-opened to the public on Sunday 28 March 2010 after restoration.[3]

Layout[edit]

Northern section of the Bund as viewed from the Customs House bell tower
Southern section of the Bund viewed from the Customs House bell tower
The China Merchant Bank

The Bund stretches one mile along the bank of the Huangpu River. Traditionally, the Bund begins at Yan'an Road (formerly Edward VII Avenue) in the south and ends at Waibaidu Bridge (formerly Garden Bridge) in the north, which crosses Suzhou Creek.

The Bund centres on a stretch of the Zhongshan Road, named after Sun Yat-sen. Zhongshan Road is a largely circular road which formed the traditional conceptual boundary of Shanghai city "proper". To the west of this stretch of the road stands some 52 buildings of various Western classical and modern styles which is the main feature of the Bund (see Architecture and buildings below). To the east of the road was formerly a stretch of parkland culminating at Huangpu Park. (This park is the site of the infamous sign reported to have proclaimed "no dogs or Chinese", although this exact wording never existed. Further information, including an image of the sign, can be found at the article on Huangpu Park.) This area is now much reduced due to the expansion of Zhongshan Road. Further east is a tall levee, constructed in the 1990s to ward off flood waters. The construction of this high wall has dramatically changed the appearance of the Bund.

Near the Nanjing Road intersection stands what is currently the only bronze statue along the Bund. It is a statue of Chen Yi, the first Communist mayor of Shanghai. At the northern end of The Bund, along the riverfront, is Huangpu Park, in which is situated the Monument to the People's Heroes - a tall, abstract concrete tower which is a memorial for the those who died during the revolutionary struggle of Shanghai dating back to the First Opium War.

Architecture and buildings[edit]

The Peace Hotel (green steepled building), formerly known as Sassoon House, one of the most famous buildings on the Bund.
ShanghaiBundpic2.jpg
The Bund and the People's Heroes Memorial
ShanghaiBundsideview.jpg

The Bund houses 52 buildings of various architectural styles, generally Eclecticist, but with some buildings displaying predominantly Romanesque Revival, Gothic Revival, Renaissance Revival, Baroque Revival, Neo-Classical or Beaux-Arts styles, and a number in Art Deco style (Shanghai has one of the richest collections of Art Deco architectures in the world). From the south, the main buildings are:

The Bund at night

Transport[edit]

While Shanghai Metro Line 2 crosses the Bund, there are no plans to build a station on the Bund. The closest station is East Nanjing Road, about a five minute walk up Nanjing Road. East-1 Zhongshan Road is a major bus route.

There were previously frequent ferry services operating from wharves on and near the Bund. The most popular remaining ferry service runs from Jinling Road wharf, near the southern end of the Bund, to Dongchang Road wharf, at the southern end of Lujiazui across the river. A full fare ride on the ferry costs 2 RMB.

Light effects in the pedestrian transit tunnel.

A pedestrian transit tunnel crosses the Huangpu River from the Bund. Passengers board slow-moving powered vehicles which travel along the tunnel, with light effects projected onto the walls of the tunnel. These effects are marketed as a tourist attraction; the charge for the tunnel is ten times the fee for crossing the river on Line 2 and 20 times the 2 RMB fee for crossing by ferry.

Cultural references[edit]

The Bund at night

The Bund was famously featured in the novel Empire of the Sun by British author J.G. Ballard, based on his experiences as a boy during the Japanese invasion and occupation. The book was later made into a film by Steven Spielberg.

The opening pages of the novel Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson are set on the Bund in November 1941, as civil order collapses under the threat of Japanese invasion.

The Bund is a setting (and namesake) of the Hong Kong television series The Bund (1980) and film Shanghai Grand (1996). The story of both involve pre-World War II era gangsters competing for control of the Bund.

"The Bund" is a song composed by electronic music group The Shanghai Restoration Project released on the group's first eponymous release, inspired by the Shanghai jazz bands of the 1930s. An instrumental version of the song titled "The Bund (Instrumental)" was released in 2008 on the group's Day - Night (Instrumentals) album.

The Bund was featured in the first leg of The Amazing Race 21.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bund" Oxford English Dictionary, Second edition, 1989; online version November 2010. <http://www.oed.com:80/Entry/24741>; accessed 10 February 2011.
  2. ^ "The Bund, Rebounded". NBBJ architects. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "Bigger and better: The Bund is back."
  4. ^ http://www.sge.sh/publish/sge/

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°14′16.9″N 121°29′10.1″E / 31.238028°N 121.486139°E / 31.238028; 121.486139